Halitosis is a condition in which a person emanates an unattractive odor from their mouth. This is often called bad breath.

Halitosis Symptoms

What does halitosis smell like? The quick answer is: It varies. The underlying causes can impact the smell. Some people might find signs of halitosis embarrassing, so much so that they’re reluctant to even talk to their dentist. Know that you’re not alone; it’s relatively common and often easy to treat and prevent halitosis.

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Halitosis Causes

There are three common halitosis causes that you, your dentist and perhaps your doctor can discuss to help you banish bad breath and improve your whole-mouth health.

  1. 01

    Oral Issues

    Around 80% of what causes halitosis is oral issues from bacteria buildup, such as cavities, gum disease, cracked fillings and less-than-clean dentures. Bacteria buildup often occurs in places a toothbrush can’t reach. It then can lead to these oral issues and persistent bad breath.

  2. 02


    High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets; too many sweets; and a steady fare of onions and garlic can cause halitosis. So will excessive coffee and alcohol consumption. In addition, tobacco users run an even higher risk of chronic bad breath.

  3. 03

    Medical Conditions

    Though rare, medical conditions, such as lung disease, certain cancers, tonsil infections, blood disorders and kidney disease can all cause halitosis. A more common medical cause is diabetes because of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Asthma, acid reflux, postnasal drip and even a common sinus infection, due to mucus buildup, also can cause halitosis and/or bad breath.

Halitosis Treatment

Because most halitosis cases start inside the mouth, your first step for halitosis treatment should be to re-evaluate your basic oral care routine

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How to Get Rid of Halitosis at Home

While brushing your teeth is necessary, one of the best halitosis home remedies is to focus on cleaning your tongue, because it’s where a large amount of the bacteria live. Clean it with a tongue scraper then rise with mouthwash, like LISTERINE®, to help kill germs that can lead to bad breath.

Remember that brushing alone reaches only 25% of your mouth. Rinsing with mouthwash allows you to clean virtually your entire mouth and helps freshen your breath. A twice-daily routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash like LISTERINE® Mouthwash can help prevent and treat halitosis.

Professional Halitosis Treatment

If you don’t notice an improvement with halitosis home remedies, you should visit your dentist. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to share your condition with a licensed professional. They’ll likely be able to diagnose it and help you find the best treatment option for you.